Maybe a lawyer, a doctor, a businessman, prospers when a community drowns in misery
- Published 22.03.20, 2:57 AM
- Updated 22.03.20, 2:57 AM
- 2 mins read
Whatever the magnitude of a tragedy, someone somewhere gains from it.
Early last century, when influenza claimed lives in millions, a far-off relative sold firewood for cremations. As the number of deaths rose, his profits went up exponentially, making him a millionaire many times over.
During the Bhopal gas tragedy in 1984, a Hindi daily that took on the Arjun Singh government gained credibility, and its circulation climbed for what readers saw as uncompromised journalism.
On July 26, 2005, when the suburbs of Mumbai were submerged in floodwaters, 10th Road in Juhu, where Amitabh Bachchan’s Pratiksha bungalow stood stately, looked like a war-torn battlefield, dotted with a multitude of abandoned buses, cars and two-wheelers that had broken down. For the next one week, towing truck operators who demanded absurd amounts of money made a killing.
So someone somewhere, maybe a lawyer, a doctor, a businessman, prospers when a community drowns in misery.
At a time when cinema halls, theatres and all avenues of amusement have downed shutters in the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, one sector has seen an unexpected gain — the watch-at-home platforms. Realising this was the time to strike and make hay, there was a spurt in full page ads by every big player in the world of OTT (over-the-top media services). And overnight, a section of the movie-going audience that hadn’t been introduced to Netflix, Amazon Prime, Zee5 or MX found a variety of entertainment streaming into residential spaces. Viewers found that, for instance, they didn’t have to wait until year-end for Kangana Ranaut to balloon into Jayalalithaa in the feature film, Thalaivi — Ramya Krishnan (of Bahubali fame) had already brought home the late Tamil Nadu CM in the fictionalised Tamil-English Web series, Queen, on MX Player. (The title itself tread on Kangana’s toes as the word Queen had belonged to her so far, after her box-office hit of 2013.) A well-made series that questioned patriarchy and spotlighted a woman who picks herself up and steams ahead every time life throws a cruel googly at her, Ramya’s Queen was one of the biggies that got much ad attention last week.
But the really fortunate beneficiary of the season has been a young actress called Kiara Advani. Just last year, she was roasted along with Shahid Kapoor and anybody else associated with the film, Kabir Singh, which dripped misogyny. By the end of the year, Kiara had another hit when she teamed with Akshay Kumar, Kareena Kapoor and Diljit Dosanjh in Good Newwz.
However, it is with the gut wrenchingly well-narrated Guilty that Kiara has sort of redeemed herself for the Kabir Singh chapter. She can thank mentor Karan Johar for it as he seems to have taken her too (along with Alia Bhatt, Janhvi Kapoor and Ananya Panday) under his wing. He found space for her even in Kalank, casting her as Varun Dhawan’s discarded girlfriend.
A couple of years ago, Kiara was an unknown pretty face when Karan directed her in one of four short films collectively titled Lust Stories. In June 2018, Karan’s short film and Sonam Kapoor’s intrepid Indian version of Sex & The City had a common element that made viewers sit up shocked — Kiara in Lust Stories and Swara Bhaskar in Veere Di Wedding played young women who self-help themselves for sexual satisfaction.
While that was bold, Kiara’s second outing on an OTT platform, once again courtesy Karan, whose Dharma stepped into Web film and Web series production with Guilty, does what Taapsee’s unconvincingly written Thappad failed to do. Directed by Ruchi Narain, and tautly written by her along with two other women, Guilty makes up for the big movements and big screen films that have let down women recently.
Kiara as Nanki, the feisty collegian on campus, goes beyond her casually worn tattoos and tees as layer after layer is peeled off for the emergence of a young woman who can stand up for her gender when it is wronged. Just the booster shot that #MeToo needed.
Bharathi S. Pradhan is a senior journalist and author